Thursday, August 19, 2010

Management Theory Part 1: Attitudes and Perception, Written by, Christopher Lim

Attitudes are an important component of organizational behaviour. Formally defined, an attitude is a predisposition to respond in a positive or negative way to someone or something in our environment (Wood et al. 2006, p. 55). Attitudes have three components: cognitive, affect and behaviour. In organizations, attitudes are important because of their behavioural component. Attitude-behaviour relationship is likely to be much stronger if an attitude refers to something with which the individual has direct experience (Robbins and Judge 2007, p.69).

An employee faced with the problem of not meeting his goal of getting a promotion may create a problem for him. One theoretical framework – the exit-voice-loyalty-neglect framework may be helpful in understanding the succeeding behaviour of this employee. Hirschman asserted that, when confronting workplace problems, people’s two courses of actions were:

(1) leave the organization, “exit”, or
(2) stay and express their displeasure, “voice”.

Whereas both exit and voice behaviours can send a similar message to the organization, causing it to improve, voice is the more difficult option (Hirschman 1970).

Those with greater loyalty are more likely to stay and try to change the organization from within. This is particular true if they believe that their efforts have the power to influence organization (Hodson 2001). Withey and Cooper (1989), building on Hirschman’s original model and later work by Rusbelt et al. (1988), identify four options for dissatisfied workers: exit, voice, loyalty, and neglect.

They define loyalty as remaining with the organization and supporting it.

Neglect is characterised by maintaining formal ties with the organization but limiting contributions to a minimum. Robbins and Judge (2007) characterized neglect as passively allowing conditions to worsen, including chronic absenteeism or lateness, reduced effort, and increased error rate.

It is assumed that job satisfaction determines an employee’s organizational behaviour (OCB). Satisfied employees would seem more likely to talk positively about the organization, help others, and go beyond the normal expectations in their job (Robbins & Judge 2007, p. 84). OCB is an individual voluntary behaviour that the organization’s formal reward system does not directly recognize. The accumulation of OCB also advances the successful operation of the organization (Fodchuck 2007, p.29).

When each individual see an event unfolding, they will interpret what they see, and that interpretation is heavily influenced by the personal characteristics of the individual perceiver. Personal characteristics that effect perception include a person’s attitudes, personality, motives, interests, past experiences, and expectations (Robbins & Judge 2007, p. 131).

When a manager makes a decision to promote one employee over another, they might have perceived the neglected employee to have certain negative attribute which resulted in the decision. People use shortcuts in perceiving and interpreting what others do. The Halo effect is when one attribute is used to develop an overall impression of the person (USQ, Mgmt5000, p. 35).

The most relevant application of perception is the issue of how we perceived people. The attribution theory can explain how colleagues and managers interpret the motives of each individual’s subjectively perceived behaviours.

Basically, the theory suggests that when we observe an individuals’ behaviour, we attempt to determine whether it was internally or externally caused. Internally caused behaviours are those that are believed to be under the personal control of the individual. Externally caused behaviour is seen as resulting from outside causes.

In self-serving bias (Krusemark 2008), the employee might blame his failure to get the promotion on an unappreciative and incompetent manager instead of his own shortcomings.
1. Robbins, SP & Judge, TA 2007, Organizational Behaviour: Twelfth Edition, Pearson Prentice Hall, USA.
2. Fodchuck, KM 2007,’ Work Environments That Negate Counterproductive Behaviors and Foster Organizational Citizenship: Research-Based Recommendations for Managers’, The Psychologist-manager journal,Vol. 10 Issue 1 ,pp.27-46, 
3. Wood, J, Zeffane, R, Fromholtz, M, Fitzgerakd, J 2006, Organizational Behaviour: Core Concepts and Applications First Australasian edition, Wiley, Australia.
4. Robbins, TL, Summers, TP, Miller, JL, Hendrix, WH 2000, ‘ Using the group-value model to explain the role of noninstrumental justice in distinguishing the effects of distributive and procedural justice’, Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, Vol. 73 Issue 4, pp. 511–518, 
5. USQ MGT5000, 2009, ‘Management and Organisational Behaviour: study book’, University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba.
6. Hirschman, AO 1970, Exit, voice and loyalty: Responses to declines in firms, organizations, and states, Harvard University Press.
7. Hodson, R 2001, Dignity at work, Cambridge University Press.
8. Withey, MJ, Cooper, WH 1989,’Predicting Exit, Voice, Loyalty, and Neglect’, Administrative Science Quaterly, Vol. 34, pp. 521-539,
9. Krusemark, EA, Keith, CW, Clementz, BA 2008, Attributions, deception, and event related potentials: An investigation of the self-serving bias’, Psychophysiology, Vol. 45 Issue 4, pp. 511-515

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